|Go Travel Kent League
|Stephen McCartney reports from Winch's Field|
|Herne Bay||2||Sam Denly 36
Dave Masters 47
Herne Bay extend lead to five points after fifth successive win
HERNE BAY opened up a five point gap at the top of the Go Travel Kent League table after inflicting Tunbridge Wells' first league defeat on the road this season and have now won their last five league games.
Two goals in an eleven minute spell either side of the interval put Jason Lillis' side five points clear of local rivals Whitstable Town - with one game in hand - after the Oystermen lost 2-1 at home to unpredictable Greenwich Borough.
Tunbridge Wells, however, travel to Erith Town on Monday night looking to make up ground on Herne Bay and Greenwich are the visitors to Culverden Stadium on Saturday.
Herne Bay, however, entertain Erith Town at Winch's Field on Saturday.
Kevin Metcalf's side are now ten points behind the leaders in sixth place but their cause has been helped after being awarded two points by the FA.
Beckenham Town - who drew 1-1 at Culverden Stadium in October - were found guilty of fielding an ineligible player in that game and have been deducted one point, with two points being awarded to the Wells.
As arguments over goal-line technology continue to rage on in the Premiership after Tottenham's long-range "goal" was ruled out at Old Trafford, a controversial decision by the officials denied the visitors from taking the lead in the 23rd minute.
Dave Hassett's cross from the right by-line picked out Bradley Mortimer unmarked at the far post. The midfielder had enough purchase on his header, which was clawed out by Herne Bay goalkeeper Jack Delo at his near upright.
However, Mortimer raised his hands high above his head appealing for the goal but his appeals were turned down by the match officials. Referee Dave Moran - officiating in the Kent League for the last time before switching to the Combined Counties League - turned down the appeals although Mortimer insisted after the game, the ball was "one foot over the line".
The home side enjoyed a good spell earlier in the game. After ten minutes they tested highly-rated visiting goalkeeper Matt Bromby.
Brown lifted the ball over the Wells defence for Danny Kedwell to latch onto and
after getting the better of Wells captain Simon Joynes and Ben Hilden he was
denied by Bromby who stood tall until the final moment before blocking the shot.
At the other end, Tunbridge Wells' midfielder Luke Williams flashed a 20-yarder narrowly wide of the foot of the post.
Following a throw from Aaron O'Leary, which was flicked on by Dean Walker, Mortimer, with only the goalkeeper to beat, stroked the ball into the grateful arms of the Herne Bay goalkeeper four minutes before his header incident.
Both goalkeepers were then tested in the space of a minute with Delo saving comfortably from Hassett, who had spun away from Steven Lloyd, after latching onto Lee Porter's through ball and at the other end, Bromby got his body behind the ball from Brown's right-footed 28-yard free kick.
Herne Bay, however, took the lead after 36 minutes with a very good goal.
Kedwell played the ball down the right flank for Nathan Eastwood, who squared the ball to Brown on the edge of the penalty area. Instead of shooting at goal, he laid the ball off for Sam Denly to stroke the ball past a flying Bromby inside the left upright from the edge of the box.
Two minutes later, Herne Bay hard-man Ronan O'Conner was booked for a challenge on Joe Wade, on the right flank, which left the former Bromley and Ashford Town midfielder screaming in agony. After lengthy treatment, he was stretchered off around three sides of the pitch into the dressing room.
Early indications - before a hospital visit - suggested he had a badly bruised foot from a player who picks up a fair share of cards from Kent League match officials.
Both sides finished the half by creating chances. Kedwell and giant forward Dave Masters both blazed over for the home side and Walker's flicked a header across the face of the Herne Bay goal following O'Leary's free kick from the right hand side of the penalty area.
Whatever Herne Bay boss Lillis said during the interval had the desired effect as his side increased their lead in the 47th minute.
Simon Brown's flag kick was met inside a crowded six-yard box by Masters who crashed his header through many bodies and into the back of the net.
Just before the hour mark, however, Bay almost increased their lead when Master's powerful drive went through Joynes' legs but Bromby made a comfortable low save.
More chances were squandered by the visitors with Porter testing Delo, with a rising shot towards goal, which was saved comfortably above the goalkeeper's head.
Former Sittingbourne striker Dave Hassett struck a left-footed shot from 14-yards that sailed high over the roof of the terracing behind the goal.
With fifteen minutes left, Masters slotted past Bromby into the far corner of the net but it was ruled out for offside.
In a bid to run the clock down, Lillis made three substitutions in the last five minutes of the game as they secured their eleventh success of their Kent League campaign.
Tunbridge Wells boss Kevin Metcalf blamed his side for missing a whole host of chances, which was the reason why they suffered their third league defeat of the season.
"Gutted, I'm absolutely gutted," he said.
"I thought we were the better side, we played our football but we didn't take our chances.
"I think we should have won comfortably, perhaps two or three-nil. But if you don't take your chances, they've got two goals and that's it."
The former Canterbury City and Tenterden Town manager admitted he told his side to remain focused during the interval but Herne Bay punished their lapse in concentration with Masters' header following a corner kick early in the second half.
"We just said to the players to remain switch on at half time but we didn't.
"That 's happened in the last three weeks, so we are going to address that."
Metcalf will be hoping his side bounce back for Monday's trip to the Erith Sports Stadium to play Erith Town - the side that travel to Winch's Field next Saturday.
He added: "Time to bounce back with three points. We're still in there, now the two points from the Beckenham game have been put on.
"We are still in a nice position and a massive result with Whitstable being beaten by Greenwich Borough so we're still in there.
"It's a tight league this year - we are still going for the title, nothing has changed."
Herne Bay: Jack Delo, Richard Styles, Owain Williams, Wes Hammond (Dave Soutan 88), Steven Lloyd, Sam Denly, Nathan Eastwood (Imran Englefield 90), Danny Kedwell, Dave Masters (Ross Finn 85), Ronan O'Conner, Simon Brown. Sub: Neil Brown
Tunbridge Wells: Matt Bromby, Martin Anderson, Ben Hilden, Simon Joynes (Capt), Aaron O'Leary, Luke Williams, Lee Porter, Bradley Mortimer (Alex Rich 62), Dave Hassett, Joe Wade (Steve Ward 43), Dean Walker (Gavin Williams 80). Sub: Keith Evans
Referee: Dave Moran
Assistants: John Heasman, Dave Summers
|If using this report, please credit it to: Stephen McCartney - www.kentishfootball.co.uk|